Exploring St. Louis

The last two weekends, I’ve had the opportunity to visit St. Louis for mini-trips centered around Cardinals ballgames. While in the area, my wife and I decided to see some of the sites and to explore areas we’d never seen.

Last week, we spent time in the Soulard area. We strolled the Soulard Market, where you’ll find everything from baked good to fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses; and we ate at a wonderful barbecue restaurant called Bogart’s Smokehouse. For the record, the ribs I ate at Bogart’s were the best I’ve ever had. In my life.

We then rolled down the street a few blocks to tour the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. I was floored by a couple of things. First, there must have been 1,000 people take tours in the 90 minutes we were there; second, those Clydesdales are freaking huge.

After a tour (and the obligatory free sample of beer – yeah, they really had to twist my arm), we headed to the Cardinals game for a night of fun. The game was a quick affair, capped by what proved to be the winning blast, a two-run rocket off the bat of outfielder Matt Holiday.

All in all, a great Saturday in the city.

This past weekend, my wife and I, and her folks, went back for an extended outing in St. Louis.

Our first stop was the Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood. We were a little late for the tour we wanted to hit, so we had to kill time (darn the luck) by snacking on their wonderful nachos and enjoying a cold beverage (again, a lot of arm twisting going on here). The tour was fun and informative and included, you guessed it, time for tasting different types of brews. Oh, the torture.

From there, it was off to The Hill area for dinner at Trattoria Marcella. In a word: Amazable. You should have seen the lasagna portion my wife was served; it easily could have fed all four of us (and thankfully, we got to sample off her plate, due to the sheer volume of the meal). My order of toasted ravioli was, quite simply, perfect.

Next stop, Ted Drewes. A good crowd already was there, but we had our tasty treats lickety split and downed them in like manner. After that, we headed downtown to our hotel and to explore the Gateway Arch. If you’ve never stood or walked directly below the Arch, please add that item to your bucket list. It’s an amazing sight that truly defies any superlative you might throw at it.

Here’s the best part, while we were downstairs in the incredible Museum of Westward Expansion, a massive thunderstorm broke out. So, we walked out of the museum to the sound of what we thought were fireworks from a Cardinals win or home run (no such luck) only to learn the display was being put on by Mother Nature. Imagine this, standing below a 630-foot tall monument — made of stainless steel, mind you — during a lightning storm.

I couldn’t stop laughing as my wife and her parents took off running toward the hotel.

The next day, we explored The Old Courthouse, an amazing piece of St. Louis – and American – history,  and Citygarden, which is a wonderful, modern and playful addition to the downtown area. Then, we took in the Cardinals game. They did not play well, but we had good seats (in the shade, no less) and had a fine time.

St. Louis is a wonderful city, full of excitement and amazing attractions. We saw some more well-known sites, but by no means saw everything St. Louis has to offer. Fortunately, it’s just two hours down the road and I plan to go back very soon.

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